Macaroni and Beef Casserole

Macaroni and beef casserole in a baking dish with a spoon

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
577 Calories
36g Fat
24g Carbs
38g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 577
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 36g 46%
Saturated Fat 15g 75%
Cholesterol 124mg 41%
Sodium 1095mg 48%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 38g
Vitamin C 16mg 80%
Calcium 399mg 31%
Iron 4mg 23%
Potassium 928mg 20%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

There's nothing like a hands-off comfort food hamburger and macaroni casserole when you want something satisfying but don't want to do a lot of work. This pasta and ground beef casserole recipe makes a great-tasting dinner for any night of the week, and is great as leftovers, too.

It comes together easily with ingredients you may very well have on hand—onions, bell pepper, and celery mixed with spices, spaghetti sauce, and tomato paste. The dish is then topped with shredded cheese—of course—to make one a hearty and comforting dish.

You can use elbow macaroni or any other small pasta shape, such as shells, fusilli, or penne.

Add a tossed salad and warm rolls or crusty bread for a perfect meal.

"Pasta, meat, and cheese is never wrong which makes this hot satisfying casserole so very right." —Kysha Harris

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef

  • 1 (32-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce, or homemade sauce

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni

  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

    Macaroni and beef casserole in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Fill a pasta pot with cold water and set on a burner over medium-high heat. When the pasta water comes to a boil, salt the water, stir and taste. It should taste like the sea. Undersalted? Add more. Oversalted? Pour out some water and add fresh water until you get the right balance.

    Pot with water on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. While the water is coming to a boil, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, bell pepper, and celery. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for about 3 to 4 minutes, until tender.

    Olive oil, onion, bell pepper, and celery in a pan with a wooden spoon on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Add tomato paste and stir to incorporate into the vegetables, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.

    Tomato paste cooking with the vegetable mixture in the pan with a wooden spoon on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add the ground beef and season with another pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until no longer pink.

    Ground beef and vegetable mixture cooking in a pan

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Add the spaghetti sauce. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.

    Meat sauce cooking in a pan on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Pour pasta into boiling salted water gradually while stirring the water. When the water returns to a boil, begin the cooking time as directed by the packaging for al dente doneness. Drain.

    Cooked elbow macaroni pasta in a colander

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Add pasta to meat sauce. Stir to blend.

    Pasta and meat sauce cooking in a deep saute pan

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Transfer half of the mixture to a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish and top with half of the cheese. Add remaining mixture and top with remaining cheese.

    Pasta with meat sauce topped with cheese in a baking dish

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and the mixture is bubbly.

    Macaroni and beef casserole in a white baking dish

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Variations

  • Add some sliced mushrooms for additional flavor and texture.
  • Any good marinara or tomato sauce that tastes great with pasta will work.
  • Substitute ground turkey, pork, or chicken for the beef in this recipe, or create a combination of ground meat. A plant-based ground beef would also work in this recipe.
  • Use shredded mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or a spicy Monterey Jack cheese instead.
  • If your spaghetti sauce tastes bland, feel free to add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning to it.
  • For a crustier top, place the baked casserole under the broiler for a minute or two to get nicely browned bits. However, do not broil the casserole if you are using glass bakeware, as it could crack even if it states that it's oven safe or heat resistant.

How to Store and Freeze

Leftover casseroles can be stored for three to four days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

You can also freeze any leftovers of this casserole in an airtight container for three to six months. Defrost in the refrigerator and then bake at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes until hot, or bake right from frozen at the same temperature for a bit longer, until completely hot.